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US-Russia panel meets to repair ties

world Updated: Jul 14, 2007 12:28 IST

A group of prominent US and Russian dignitaries gathered at President Vladimir Putin's countryside retreat near Moscow behind closed doors in a bid to repair deteriorating ties between the two countries.

The panel called 'Russia-USA: A Look Into the Future', led by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Russian premier Yevgeny Primakov, declined to comment on Friday's session but said it was a successful beginning to a series of high-level track two diplomacy meetings.

"We discussed many issues. Our goal was not to get media coverage, score public relations points, or press home any propaganda messages. We came here to solve problems," Primakov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have fallen to a post-Cold War low over American plans to deploy missiles in Eastern Europe, the state of democracy in Russia and the West's resolve to grant independence to Kosovo.

Kissinger praised Putin for his realistic and open approach. "We appreciate the time that President Putin gave us and the frank manner in which he explained his point of view," he said.

When asked whether US unilateralism was on the agenda, Kissinger said that "nuclear proliferation" and "nuclear threats," rather than US policies, are the biggest danger to world peace.

"I do not think that (US) expansion is a problem of the period. The problem of the period is how to avoid nuclear conflict and in this case we believe that Russia and America should have common objective," Kissinger said.

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